The roundtable was opened by Victor Chu, Chair of the ICC C ommission on Financial Services and Insurance and Chairman of First Eastern Investment Group, who explained:
“In a time when business is urging international and national authorities to ensure urgent and substantive progress toward open markets, these discussions will provide business with invaluable feedback on how best to stabilize international financial markets and increase foreign direct investment.”
Distinguished keynote speakers presented their views on the importance of corporate governance to business and economic growth in Turkey and other Middle East and North African countries.
Rona Yircali, a member of the ICC Executive Board and Chairman of Yircali, emphasized that because corporate governance applied to all operations of a company, transparency is a prerequisite.
Osman Birsen, Chairman of the Istanbul Stock Exchange, explained how the Istanbul Stock Exchange and the Turkish Capital Markets Board were attempting to establish a corporate governance index which had a minimal listing rate of six out of 10. A minimum of five listed companies would be needed to launch the index by the end of 2005.
Mr Birsen concluded: “The Asian crisis showed that financial markets are closely interrelated and that basic corporate governance principles are vital to companies and economies.”
Professor Stavros Thomadakis, Chair of the Public Interest Oversight Board of the International Federation of Accountants said that improving the image of companies could improve the overall image of a country. Dr Dogan Cansyzlar, Chairman of Capital Markets Board of Turkey and Chairman of the Emerging Markets Committee of the International Organization of Securities Commissions, also added his view that corporate governance should be considered an obligation, not a luxury.
Thirty moderators and panelists interacted with participants on key issues such as the benefits of corporate governance, balancing family and business interests, setting up an effective board, balancing majority and minority interests and the impact of corporate governance on financial markets.
Several recommendations were made during the roundtable including:
* improving transparency in companies;
* raising awareness on the strategic benefits of corporate governance, especially in family owned and non-listed companies;
* considering corporate governance as a company investment leading to long term growth;
* creating exit routes for minority shareholders;
* establishing specialized courts to address conflicts between minority and majority shareholders – in particular in emerging economies where there might be breaches in corporate law;
* restoring trust by creating stock indexes;
* reacting appropriately to corporate mismanagement and challenging boards;
* raising awareness on corporate governance and changing mentalities by educating – through chambers of commerce, business associations and universities – future managers on the importance and role of boards.
The ICC roundtable follows two days of meetings of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – which also took place in Istanbul — to discuss matters of specific relevance to non-listed companies.
Following the roundtable, ICC’s Commission on Financial Services and Insurance met to form business policy on key issues such as the liberalization of financial services and insurance, audit firm rotation, harmonization of financial reporting, Basel II and outsourcing.